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Movie Rewind: G.I. Joe, not ruining my childhood is the other half of the battle

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G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra / Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes / Rated PG-13

G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra / 1 hour 58 minutes / Rated PG-13

Wow.  Just wow.

That’s how some will leave G.I. Joe – beyond just satisfied, buzzed — with adrenaline levels starting to come down after peaking out during the last 20 minutes of the film.

Those who grew up with the series have probably watched in horror over the past decade as Hollywood has clumsily destroyed the characters and make-believe worlds many of us fell in love with growing up. If you’ve ever tried to watch any of the Dr. Seuss live action films, you know what I’m talking about. If you saw Optimus Prime’s paintjob and wondered where the flames came from or were able to read his lips (he had lips), then you probably cringed when you heard they were doing G.I. Joe.

So, I feel I can say with confidence that they didn’t mess it up and Marlon Wayans can act without his brother around.

A mix of excitement and relief is what I came out with. Of course the film leaves open so many possibilities for sequels, (in this economy it obviously has to) but it did so in a way that I welcomed. I feel I could enjoy at least as many G.I. Joe films as there are (or will be) in the Spiderman or Batman series.

A G.I. Joe film struck me as a difficult one to make. How can you possibly bring it to life without it being cheesy beyond belief? Can you have the types of characters found in the animated series without them seeming overly campy, lame and/or dated? Can the storyline be modern without abusing current events or building a story around the Al-Qaeda-styled terrorist archetype?

The answer to thee three questions is yes, yes and yes.

There were definitely some elements that raised the camp flag, namely some of the fitted military fatigues worn by the female Joes and the evil mad scientist/Darth Vader costume contest runner-up character. Yet they didn’t kill the movie or even cause it to stumble. Considering the subject matter, Director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy trilogy, Van Helsing) had a campiness credit line that he wisely didn’t max out. It kept the film lighthearted and fun. The weaponry wasn’t outrageous and even the nanotechnology premise is true to the science and, unfortunately, not too farfetched (or far off, for that matter).

As with all action films these days, it has the obligatory love storyline. However, it doesn’t feel strained or even terribly contrived/half-baked. It is a rare treat to see the love story element get pulled off and in a way that doesn’t deflate the rest of the film with some sort of out of place passionate rendezvous.

Some may gripe about the flashback sequences, but they really do help cover a lot of ground and inject additional meaning into the film’s primary plot. Yes, that’s right, G.I. Joe has some semblance of character development. One could even argue that Sienna Miller’s Baroness and Channing Tatum’s Duke are complex and layered.  Who knew? Michael Bay and Megan Fox may wish to take notes.

I’ll admit I went into the film with low expectations and simply hoping that this slice of my childhood would escape certain doom. I came away from the film having enjoyed it thoroughly and without regret for the small ransom one pays when taking a date.

This is definitely worth seeing in the theaters for the big sound and larger than life experience.

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Written by Jonathan Hutcheson

August 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Films

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

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